Backstage at CCPA is our behind-the-scenes blog. Contributors are students, faculty, and members of our community.
Joscelyne Tamburri tells us about her experiences as a Year II student, from the classroom to the stage.
The first time we did a full run of both acts…. Well let me just say, it was a bit rough. At a 2-hour and 40 minute show time (including intermission) already, your director is less than impressed when the run through clocks in at 15 additional minutes in length. Some of it was due to the struggles with set changes and the odd pandering of a scene, but sometimes even the best cast has to do the unfortunate and cut a song or passage here and there. Sometimes sacrifices are made to create better flow in the story, other times it’s to save the audience’s backside from sitting in those uncomfortable lawn chairs for too long.
In our show, we were constantly making changes from rehearsal to rehearsal, snipping bits, altering choreo and tightening up everywhere. It’s always sad to loose pieces you have practiced and it always surprises me how attached you get to even small parts of the numbers. An interesting policy note; right from the beginning the director wanted to cut one number out completely. It was called “Playing the Game”, a scene when the children’s toys come to life in the nursery after Mary leaves in Act 1. We had to get permission from the copyright holders to remove it from the show. Just because a theatre company purchases the rights to present a show, doesn’t mean they can do what they want with it. The integrity of the story must always be protected!
We haven’t even done our dress rehearsal yet. Yikes! What will it be like when we add quick changes in? One of my costumes alone has 8 pieces to take on and off, and I am a little afraid of my supercalifragilisticexpialidocious costume change which is supposed to be done in less than 30 seconds.
Another thing that hinders the process is when you go from the rehearsal space to the actual stage and realize that things you had planned just won’t work or now have unseen safety concerns. We had one dancer take a few days off because she got a concussion from an onstage collision – the stage looks big until you get 30 people on there at once. And what happens when a pratfall goes wrong? Our poor Robertson Aye character is supposed to fall into the butcher block counter and break it, knocking himself out in the “Spoon Full of Sugar” kitchen scene. The trouble is, he was a little too realistic and during the fall he twisted his ankle, putting him on the bench for a few days. Thank goodness for understudies who fill so we can keep rehearsing. And I even had a few of my own close calls. One being in Step In Time, where I was originally supposed to slide down the roof top with my tap shoes. It looked great in the rehearsal space, until we realized that the momentum and distance from my steel taps would slide me right past the stage floor, bowl some cast members off their feet and into the audience. Now that’s audience participation – CATCH ME PLEASE! Needless to say that was an easy change.
Some things click right away and others have to be tweaked over and over and over, like the Carousel part in Jolly Holiday. It’s not so magical when the cast gets knotted & tangled in all the ribbons and are tripping on each other. It took us more run throughs than I can count to figure out how to make it right. But that’s just it, we want to make it right for the audience and not cheat them out of such a visually appealing feature of the song.
All of our efforts are to create a smooth and magical experience for the audience. To take them away on a 2-1/2 hour journey into a simpler time and place, and leave them wanting to return.
Until next time friends, stay classy and sassy.